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Insanity Defense Introduction The criminal law requires criminal conviction to fully satisfy the presence of both the criminal act ‘actus reus’ and the criminal mind ‘mens rea’, grounded on the belief that the commission of a crime necessitates an evil intent.
249). This defense has posed an insoluble problem to the criminal justice system – Contrary to the criminal law which seeks to punish the criminal; the insanity defense seeks to excuse the criminal of responsibility (Fersch, 2005). Affirming the crucial importance of criminal intent in defining a crime, this term paper contends that insanity defense is morally justified and necessary because without this justice may be unwittingly denied. Insanity Defenses The recognition and standard of insanity defense vary across states and have changed through the years: From the M’Naghten rule (1841) to the introduction of Diminished Responsibility (1866) and to the Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984. (Reznek, 1997; Fersch, 2005) These changes did not abolish neither weaken the insanity defense, but instead further rationalized its justness as can be deduced from its five categories. First, the cognitive defense asserts that the offender is not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) because his mental illness prevents him from knowing the wrongfulness of his act. This defense must prove that at the time of the criminal act, the defendant must have been damaged by a mental illness to a point that the defendant did not know what he was doing and that what he was doing was wrong. ...
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